Food allergy is a common health problem and needs attention. The description given in Ayurveda can be utilized to manage the food allergies. The food allergy actions includes:
• Allergic tension fatigue syndrome
• Intolerance and indigestion of certain foods
According to the Ayurveda, each individual constitutes a specific pattern and overall body makeup which is directly affected by the food. Thereby, to avoid food allergies, specific types of food are selected with seasonal alterations.
In Ayurveda, prakriti or properties of food have been described which have been further evaluated by modern science. In Ayurveda, a list of Rasayana has been illustrated to have multidimensional functionality and deep impact on human health which has been clinically accepted worldwide.
Food allergy or intolerance is the most complicated issue of today’s world which has not been resolved by modern science yet. But it’s very precisely stated in Ayurveda. The vast understanding of Ayurvedic treatment for the food allergy will be an intense measure for patient’s care.
What Is Food Allergy?
Food allergy is observed when a body shows abnormal or exaggerated immunological response to specific proteins present in the food and results in the appearance of various symptoms. It is very common, difficult to diagnose and treat. It generally prevails in children younger than 3 years and declines with age. The prevalence of food allergy is 8%.
The most common food items responsible for food allergy are:
• Cow’s milk
• Soybean etc.
The clinical manifestation varying in severity are:
• Gastrointestinal disorders
• Lip swelling
• Anaphylactic shock.
The allergic reactions can be acute and are generally mediated by IgE antibodies. Thus, food allergies have an immunological basis. In contrary, the deficiency of some key enzymes is likely to be the reason for food allergy.
What Is Food Allergy In Ayurveda?
According to the Ayurveda, food can be classified according to the body’s constituents and prakriti. The other aspect is the climate and seasonal variation. The capacity of digestion is known as Agni’ and poor Agni results in the food intolerance and subsequently the birth of various chronic diseases.
Management To Prevent Food Allergy
The management of food allergies is based on presenting symptoms and designing prevention strategies accordingly. The first and most difficult step to treating the food allergies is the detection of food allergen. It is very difficult to establish. But in Ayurveda minor ailments of the digestion are considered very important because they can give rise to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, renal disorders, pyrexia of unknown origin, epilepsy and several other CNS disorders.
The following regulations of food habits can be followed as:
• Eating foods according to one’s prakriti: Select food according to the prakriti of your body. Prakriti is the constitution of the individual derived from genetic and environmental factors. Thus, biological responses of an individual to the food vary according to their prakriti, time, place and season.
Furthermore, vitiated energies lead into the Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas and their combinations disturb the whole body mechanism. According to Ayurveda, there are ten classes of prakritis; vataj, pittaj, or kaphaj, combinations of two doshas as vatapittaj, vata- kaphaj, pitta-vataj, pittakaphaj, kapha-vataj, kapha-pittaj and the combination of all the three doshas. Therefore, people of same prakriti will express the similar physical, physiological and psychological characteristics and show the similar disturbances and food allergies.
For example, fats like ghee or butter and sweets, are more suitable for Vata types, whereas it should be avoided by Kapha types. In addition, type of food also affects the doshas. For example, cold milk is good for Vata individuals and lukewarm milk is preferable for Kapha ones.
• Seasonal variations: The seasonal variations also affect the biological responses of the body. In Ayurveda, these variations are explained on the basis of alterations in different doshas. Thus to have one’s body in better form, one has to take a perfect healthy diet which is adjusted according to the seasonal changes.
According to the chronobiology and chronotherapy, all physiological and pathological phenomena are maintained by the balance in doshas which is affected by the diurnal cycle and climate of the place.
The change of seasons induces aggravation of different doshas and chances of ill-health during the change of seasons. Therefore, the individuals should anticipate maintaining doshas to normal levels by doing dietary adjustments, thereby, preventing diseases.
• Combining the foods to improve tolerance: Diet should be prepared in appropriate combination of different foods to make it wholesome. For example, curd should be avoided at night, but if one is much desirous of curd, they can take it with ghee and sugar.
If an individual is suffering from habitual constipation, curd with sugar should be avoided. Moreover, salted curd is preferable for people suffering from diarrhea.
• Combining the foods to reduce intolerance: The food can be further made more suitable by appropriate processing like heating, churning, steeping and infusing.
• Slow adaptation to the unsuitable food: The allergic food contains allergic antigens which are unacceptable by the body. But they can be accepted by the body if exposed gradually.
• Adapting with the help of herbs: There are several herbs classified as Rasayana in Ayurveda, which are traditionally used for the prevention and treatment of allergic disorders including food allergies.
These herbs are Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi), Withania, somnifera (Ashwagandha), Emblica officinalis (Amla), Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) etc. The most important part of these Rasayan are that they can be routinely administered to the babies, pregnant and even lactating mother to optimize the baby’s immunity.